November 18, 2018

As Hurricane Florence Approaches, Get Ready

Hurricane Florence is approaching the east coast of the U.S. as a Category 4 storm with winds of 140 mph. Storms of this magnitude can wreak havoc on a large area even if your home is out of reach of storm surge and high winds. Flooding and power outages can cause serious food safety issues. The CDC has some advice.

Hurricane Florence

If you are in an evacuation area, leave. Take medications you need with you, along with prescriptions. Avoid driving through flooded areas and standing water.

If you are planning to stay, get supplies. The hurricane will probably cut off power and your water supply may end. Have at least five gallons of water per person available per day. Most experts say you should have enough water for five days, but Hurricane Florence may stall, so you may want to think about getting more. Fill your bathtubs with water.

And have a three to five day supply of food that doesn’t spoil and doesn’t need refrigeration. Canned food is safe; make sure you have a can opener as well. Gather a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and battery powered radio and flashlights. Make sure you have hand sanitizer and soap on hand.

During the storm, don’t use a grill inside your home or a garage. Those objects pose a carbon monoxide and fire danger. A fireplace can be unsafe for cooking unless the chimney has been inspected.

If the power has been out for less than 4 hours, the food in your fridge is safe to eat as long as you haven’t opened the door. A full freezer can keep food safe for 48 hours. You can purchase dry ice to help keep food in your freezer cold. Fifty pounds of dry ice can keep a full 18-cubic food freezer cold for two more days.

Keep food out of flood water, which is dirty and full of pathogenic bacteria. Throw away food that has come into contact with flood water. Commercially canned foods are the only foods that can withstand flood water. Home canned foods, and foods with crimped tops, screw-caps, snap-lids, twist ups, flip-tops, and snap-open lids are not safe and cannot be made safe. In addition, don’t use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.

Commercially canned foods can be sterilized by putting them in a solution of 1 cup bleach in 5 gallons of water for 15 minutes. You can also boil commercially canned foods for 2 minutes.

Any food that has thawed or perishable food that has been out of refrigeration for two hours is unsafe and should be thrown out. If food still has ice crystals, it can be refrozen.

Follow this advice and advice from officials and you can survive Hurricane Florence.

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